Designated fishing area available for surf fishing
Designated swimming areas in front of lifeguard stands
Lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day
Leashed pets are permitted from October 1st through March 31st; $5 pet fee
Swimming, Sunbathing, Bird Watching, Hiking, Fishing
Lifeguards, Wheelchair Ramps, Showers, Beach Store
Fees vary between $10 - $45 per car depending on season and day
Access fee includes parking; plenty of parking near the beach
If you're looking for one of the most picture-perfect beaches in Massachusetts, look no further! Not only is Crane Beach stunning, but it also boasts diverse natural habitats and wildlife. Continue reading to learn about its history, how to get there, exciting activities, and more.
About Crane Beach, Ipswich
Crane Beach is located just outside Ipswich, Massachusetts, along the Atlantic Coast. Its unparalleled seaside experience makes it an unforgettable destination.
Ipswich residents and visitors visit the beach to enjoy long sand dunes. It offers fun, education, and some of the most mesmerizing views in New England.
Although you might think it from the name, you won't see any cranes at Crane Beach. Instead, it pays homage to Richard T. Crane, Jr., who donated the beach to the state and the local Crane Wildlife Refuge.
Instead of cranes, you'll likely see tiny little birds known as piping plovers hanging out at this spectacular beach. Piping Plovers are threatened shorebirds that the Trustees of Reservations protect. In fact, Crane Beach has been nationally recognized for its successful shorebird protection program.
Piping plovers aren't the only wildlife in the area. With over 12,000 acres of coastal dunes, beachfront, and maritime forest, there's a lot of wildlife to see. The area is filled with well-established boardwalks and trails for exploring the area. With that said, be sure to respect the fenced nesting areas.
Not only do nature lovers visit Crane Beach, but so do families. Because of natural shelter from the wind and inviting waters, Crane Beach is a great place to bring younger children. The waves are gentle, and there's plenty of sand for spreading out. You can walk out to sand bars away from shore to enjoy shallow waters at low tide.
There are plenty of amenities available during the summer, including the Crane Beach Store, concessions, changing rooms, restrooms, and lifeguards. There is only access to restrooms during the off-season, so be sure to bring everything else you'll need!
Around the beach, you can also find more than five miles of hiking trails and forests. The trails take you along the beachfront on both the Ipswich Bay and Essex River Estuary sides of the Castle Neck peninsula. These trails are also open year-round and make for beautiful winter hikes.
Crane Beach's biggest draw is the beautiful beach that's excellent for swimming, taking a refreshing plunge, and sunbathing. But, it's a year-round playground with tons of other activities to enjoy, including:
- kayaking: several kayak tour options in the area.
- birdwatching: trails and beach offer ample birdwatching opportunities.
- hiking: over 5 miles of nature trails.
- seacombing: white sand beaches perfect for seacombing.
If you're looking for a unique activity away from the beach, be sure to check out the historic Castle Hill on the Crane Estate.
Where to Stay
There aren't many accommodations right at Crane Beach, so we recommend it as a local's spot or visiting for a day trip. With that said, there are also two larger seaside towns about half an hour away: Rockport and Gloucester.
If you want to stay close to Crane Beach, The Inn at Castle Hill is an upscale inn with luxurious rooms that offer breathtaking views.
Crane Beach Review
Crane Beach is an amazing destination and easily one of the best beaches in Massachusetts. We think everyone should experience it at least once! It's a beautiful slice of natural paradise along the East Coast that boasts white sands, fun activities, and various wildlife.
Many visitors find that the biggest downside is the fee to park. Visitors must purchase a Crane Beach Parking Pass, with rates that vary on the type of vehicle and time of year. Learn all about the parking passes here.
With that said, many beachgoers don't mind paying for this unforgettable experience on an incredible beach.
We think the best time to visit is summer when the weather and water are warm. However, it's important to note that greenhead flies (or green heads) are active throughout July and early August and do bite. It's best to avoid wearing perfume and dry off when you get out of the water to prevent this.
During the winter, Crane Beach boasts magnificent wintry dunes and cold waters. While it's chilly during the off-season, it's an unparalleled glimpse of snow and sand together.
Crane Beach is also a great place for pet owners between October 1st and March 31st. However, there's a $5 fee for pets.
Overall, Crane Beach is one of the most stunning places in Massachusetts dedicated to preserving nature. You won't regret your visit no matter what time of year you go.